A MARKET trader has blasted council bosses after high rents and increasing service charges meant they could no longer afford to keep their stall open.

Tracy and John Crabtree, who owned Crabtree’s Indulge in Darwen Market, had to close their stall and cease trading last month due to what they cite as ‘a lack of support’ from management amidst spiralling costs.

The couple, who had traded in the market since October, said a decrease footfall and lack of atmosphere in the market, had also contributed to their reasons for leaving as they could not cope with the lack of custom while trying to meet their rent.

Mrs Crabtree said: “The market is often dead and has hardly any atmosphere. Management have said that this is not the case but I think they are in denial.

“We feel there is lack of support and no communication between market representatives and stall holders, and often, when events are scheduled in Darwen, we market traders are overlooked in favour of external businesses who then take our trade.”

Mrs Crabtree said over the last year, two other stalls, Home Essentials and PIXELS have left the market, leaving it looking like an empty shell.

She said: “The rents are just too high, and a lot of stall holders are paying over the odds, or are paying a lot more than someone with the same size pitch, not to mention a recent 20 percent rise in service charges.”

At the beginning of May, Blackburn Market, which is managed by the same team, lost one of its stalls - the third in less than a month to disappear.

However, market bosses have been quick to refute claims that footfall is declining, and instead, have said that new business have opened and more are on the way.

Councillor Phil Riley, Executive Member for Growth and Development, said: "We have worked hard to support Crabtree’s Indulge and we are sorry that things don’t seem to have worked out for them. I wish them all the best for the future.

"It is obviously disappointing to see traders leave the market but we work hard to bring investment in to Darwen Market and the square and hold events throughout the year to bring more people in to the area. It is all part of our ambition for a rejuvenated Darwen Market which brings out its best and brings in more people to boost the town."